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by Shane Stokes
February 27, 2018
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The 2017 Tour of Flanders winner Philippe Gilbert will continue his build-up to the major Classics when he lines out in Le Samyn on Tuesday. The Belgian will co-lead the team with Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar. Gilbert and Terpstra won the event in 2008 while Terpstra triumphed in 2016.
The squad will also include the Belgian Tim Declercq, Terpstra’s fellow Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen, Davide Martinelli (Italy) and French rider Florian Sénéchal. The latter was forced to miss Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday due to gastroenteritis, but has the all-clear to race on Tuesday.
“We come here with a very strong team, built around three riders who have ambitions for this race,” said the directeur sportif Tom Steels. “I’m talking here of Philippe, Zdenek and Niki.
“Florian, who despite being new on the squad, already proved this year what a talented rider he is, together with Tim, Davide and Fabio, will support our guys in this race which on top of having a demanding course, will be made hard also by the weather. With temperatures below zero degrees and a strong wind coming from the north it will be very tough out there, but we will try to leave our mark on this beautiful race.”
Early on the riders will cover a route that includes the short but steep Côte de Mainvault, Côte de la Folie, Côte des Papins and Côte de Semenil climbs. Then with 100 kilometres remaining, the riders will race onto a circuit which they will cover four times. Each of these laps includes four cobbled sectors, ranging from 1,400 metres to 400 metres in length.